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ARTIST STATEMENT

In the early 19th century, mathematicians began studying a theory related to map making. The premise is very simple: that a map can be coloured using only four colours. Though the concept is simple, the mathematics behind The Four Colour Map Problem is so complex that it took mathematicians nearly 200 years and a computer to solve.

 

It is, in fact, the first theorem ever proved by a computer, and it required nearly 20,000 lines of code. The proof was so complex that for over 20 years mathematicians did not accept it. To this day, there is no formula or algorithm for colouring a map using only four colours. The idea behind this series of paintings is to find that algorithm, and to turn an incredibly complex piece of mathematics into a tangible idea that people can understand and work with. Artists have done similar things in the past.

 

During the European Renaissance, Italian artists invented the mathematics of perspective. During the so-called “Islamic Golden Era” all forms geometric symmetry were discovered by artists, centuries before they were documented by mathematicians. I believe these breakthroughs were possible because artists have a unique way of tackling problems which is based on making and sharing mistakes rather than focusing on a solution. With this in mind, I have three main goals for the series.

 

First, to “solve” the Four Colour Map Problem by proposing and testing different formulas against the random geometry of OSB plywood. Second, to show how the research behind a problem, including the failures, is as interesting and beautiful as the solution. And finally, to demonstrate again, how art has something useful to contribute in fields outside of art, including real and practical work in mathematics and science.

 

FOUR COLOR THEOREM